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Characteristics of Mammals Lesson Plan

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Lesson Plan #: AELP-ANM0206
Submitted by: Jennifer Eby and Jen Beck
Email: JennaCawley@cs.com
School/University/Affiliation: University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Endorsed by: Lisa Blank
             University of Montana, Missoula, MT

November 19, 2001

Grade Level: 2


  • Science/Animals
  • Science/Process Skills

Duration: 1 hour

Description: After learning about the characteristics of mammals, students create a picture of an animal which has at least one mammal quality.


  • Students will understand that animals can be grouped in a variety of ways.
  • Students will be able to identify animals classified as mammals.
  • Objectives:

  • Students will be able to identify four characteristics of mammals.
  • Students will be able to draw a picture of an animal which has at least one mammal characteristic.
  • Materials:

    • animal pictures (for each pair of students: 3 pictures of mammals and 3 pictures of other animals)
    • posterboard
    • all-purpose adhesive
    • white drawing paper (enough for each student)
    • crayons and markers

    Scientific Explanation:
    What are the characteristics of mammals? Mammals have the following characteristics that separate them from other animals: live births, nurse their young, are warm-blooded, and have hair or fur.

    Focus Phase:
    Begin by dividing the class into groups of two or three. Give each group a set of pictures (3 mammals and 3 non-mammals. Ask students to sort the pictures into two groups. How students sort the pictures is up to them. After the pictures have been sorted, students will mount them on posterboard to display to the class. Then students will share with the class why they sorted the pictures the way that they did.

    Challenge Phase:

    How did the students divide their pictures? Have each group explain how they chose to group the pictures. As they explain, write down key ideas on the board or easel, so the whole class can see the different ways of thinking.

    Concept Introduction Phase:
    Share with the class what scientists say about grouping animals. There is a category of animals called mammals – animals which have certain characteristics in common. They are all warm-blooded, have live births, nurse their young, and have hair or fur (with the exception of the whale). Challenge students to regroup and this time sort their pictures into two groups: mammals and non-mammals. Students should be able to demonstrate and explain why they made (or didn’t make) the changes they did. When they have done this, have them share again with the class how they divided up their pictures and why they think their mammal group is correct.

    Concept Application Phase:
    Give each student a piece of white drawing paper. Based on the mammal characteristics they have learned about, have each student create their own mammal. The animal has to show at least one mammal quality. Have the students name their mammals.

    Assessment: Collect students’ drawings. Each drawing must show at least one characteristic of a mammal. Students should be able to explain why their creation is a mammal.

    Special Comments: This lesson was done as an introduction to mammals for a second grade classroom.

    Useful Internet Resource:
    * Yahooligans! Directory – Mammals